Setting Boundaries in a Relationship After Cheating
Setting boundaries in a relationship, especially after infidelity, is crucial for rebuilding trust and preventing future breaches of faithfulness.
These boundaries are guidelines and agreements that both partners establish to ensure a healthy and respectful relationship.
Here are some examples of boundaries that can be set after cheating:
1. No contact with the affair partner: A clear and non-negotiable boundary is that you must have no contact with the person you cheated with. This means blocking their phone number, unfriending them on social media, and ensuring there's no opportunity for communication.
Now, this may not be possible when you share children or family with this person, so agree as a couple how interactions will proceed.
Maybe it's limited communication. Maybe the other parter is present and aware of all conversations happening between all parties.
The goal here is re-establish the primary partners' bond and position in the relationship.
2. Transparency about communication: Be open about your interactions with others. Share your texts, emails, and phone conversations with your spouse. This transparency helps rebuild trust.
In an open relationship, this can look like future communication with prospective partners all goes through a mutual text or video sharing app.
Over-communicating will begin to re-train the nervous system and build safety into the relationship.
3. Time spent together: Allocate quality time for each other to nurture the emotional connection in your marriage. Make a commitment to prioritize your spouse over other activities or people.
This could look like scheduling weekly 1:1 dates to process feelings, reassure each other's commitment to each other, and have fun. This should be a bonding time you share.
Get snuggly on a couch. Make love (unless you're intentionally abstaining). Take a walk and hold hands. Make a meal together in your underwear. Do something silly like play putt-putt or go bowling in crazy socks.
4. Shared passwords: Some couples choose to share passwords to email accounts, social media, or other platforms to demonstrate trust and transparency. However, this should be a mutual decision and not imposed.
The opposite option is to NOT share passwords/phones/etc., and instead learn to build TRUST.
If you have distrust in your relationship, ask yourself these questions:
- What am I doing or not doing that is causing my partner to not feel comfortable sharing with me?
- What can I do to show my partner that I am interested in what they want to share and I am committed to holding a safe space for them to express themselves fully?
5. Social boundaries: Discuss what types of social interactions are acceptable. For example, you may agree not to attend events where you know the affair partner will be present.
Moving forward, discuss what triggers you have socially that might cause you to stray as the offender of cheating, or if you've been cheated on, discuss what things socially cause you to feel triggered.
Ex: Your partner flirts with the server
Ex: In an open relationship setting, while at a party, your partner doesn't involve you in their conversations or interactions with others.
Ex: Physical activity with others that does not include your partner.
6. Location boundaries: Be clear about where you're going and who you're with when you're not together. This can help alleviate suspicions and concerns.
7. Financial boundaries: Agree on how finances will be managed in the relationship. This includes setting limits on spending and making decisions about joint accounts.
It also includes how you spend month on other people you're in relationship with.
Ex: Nothing over $100 is spent on someone outside of your partnership.
8. Friendship boundaries: Discuss what types of friendships are acceptable within the marriage. Some couples may decide to avoid close friendships with individuals of the opposite sex to reduce temptation.
In an open relationship, this might be creating strong boundaries around flirting with friends, getting naked with friends, or sharing information with friends outside of your partnership.
9. Emotional boundaries: Be mindful of the emotional connections you form outside of the marriage. Avoid sharing personal or intimate details with someone who is not your spouse while you're in this rebuilding phase.
10. Personal growth boundaries: Commit to working on personal growth and self-improvement as individuals and as a couple. This can involve setting goals and boundaries around personal development.
Ex: Take a self improvement course, go to anger management, join a program or reoccuring meeting group.
11. Conflict resolution boundaries: Establish healthy ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to unhealthy behaviors or seeking emotional support outside the marriage.
This is where you want to change the pattern, and become a pattern-breaking.
Neuroplasticity comes into play when we circuit the brain by changing our pattern.
Is your natural tendency to get angry? Find ways to self-soothe.
Join a yoga class.
Study different breathing techniques.
Take up meditation.
Start working out.
Go on long walks.
Listen to soothing music or mantras.
Check out adult coloring books.
If you're used to DOing... try BEing.
It's important to note that these boundaries should be negotiated and agreed upon by both partners.
They are not meant to be punitive but rather to create a safe and respectful environment in which trust can be rebuilt.
Additionally, boundaries may evolve over time as trust is reestablished and the relationship heals.
Regular communication and reassessment of these boundaries are key to maintaining a healthy, faithful, and loyal relationship.
Couples coaching can also be a helpful resource in navigating this process.
Find resources for coaching with me here: https://www.jenniferkayloruscin.com/love-coach-jennifer-ruscin